Milestone-Proposal talk:Development of the Laser Printer

Revision as of 21:47, 5 October 2020 by Richard Ahrons (talk | contribs)

Advocates and reviewers will post their comments below. In addition, any IEEE member can sign in with their ETHW login (different from IEEE Single Sign On) and comment on the milestone proposal's accuracy or completeness as a form of public review.

From Dick Ahrons This is an bad way of communication to get final editing done. I think this is where we are at:

Amy's

In 1971, PARC researchers demonstrated the feasibility of laser-printing computer images on single pages, a major advance over older slow printers that used spools of continuous-feed paper. Innovative designs for a computer-driven optical system transferred digital information to a xerographic copier. The Xerox 9700's launch in 1977 brought rapid printing into offices and homes, fostering both efficiency and creativity in business and leisure computer use.

Geoff's

In 1971, PARC researchers demonstrated the feasibility of laser-printing computer images on single pages, a major advance over usual impact printers that used continuous-feed paper. Innovative optical designs for a computer-driven system transferred digital information to a xerographic copier. In 1977, the Xerox 9700 proved the commercial viability of laser printing, helped launch the non-impact printer industry, and commenced a new era in printed communication. (69 words)

As One of the proposers, I am happy with either. However Amy's version does stretch the point when linking the Xerox 9700 to home. I can live with that. Xerox was over focused on what we call today the enterprise market not the home. Good reference is Starkweather's oral history.

We try to put so much into the 70ish words that we can message this forever. As Dave and Geoff know, I have written many of the laser printer plaque text as we went though the process. Time to close on this one.

        • I will go with our advocate Dave Bart's final choice.****

I need to finish off on this milestone and send it into the unveiling planning stage since it will be coupled to an earlier PARC milestone awaiting unveiling.

Dick Ahrons ahrons@alum.mit.edu



Comments -- Jbart64 (talk) 16:35, 31 August 2020 (UTC)

To all- I have worked closely with the proposer and the team who compiled this Milestone proposal. I fully support the final proposal as shown, which contains the team's consolidated edits and combined thoughts. The proposer is one of the experts, and a second expert has been contacted. Statements from both will be posted when received. David Bart Milestone Advocate

Expert response -- Jbart64 (talk) 14:01, 1 September 2020 (UTC)

On Aug 31, 2020, at 6:23 PM, John Shoch <j@shoch.com> wrote:

My name is John Shoch. I joined the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in 1971; it was in my first year there that I saw an early demonstration of the Xerox laser printing engine, the Scanning Laser Output Terminal (SLOT). Over the years that SLOT was combined with the Ethernet local network, the Alto computer, and the Research Character Generator (RCG) [and lots of software] to produce EARS -- the first laser print server. For several years this laser print server produced millions of prints as the only networked print server for Xerox PARC.

I ended my career at Xerox as President of the Office Systems Division; one of our products was an early commercial laser printer server.

My later career as a venture capitalist kept me in touch with many of the principals, and subsequent market developments.

I have reviewed, and support, the proposed IEEE milestone, "Development of the Laser Printer, 1971-1977."

John Shoch Xerox, 1971-1985 Life Member, IEEE Trustee, Computer History Museum

Expert response #2 -- Jbart64 (talk) 14:05, 1 September 2020 (UTC)

On Aug 31, 2020, at 5:00 PM, Geoff Thompson <thompson@ieee.org> wrote:

To The History Committee-

My name is Geoffrey Thompson. I am a Life Senior Member of the IEEE. I am a member and past chair of the IEEE Registration Authority Committee (RAC). I am a Member Emeritus of the IEEE 802 LMSC Executive Committee. I am past chair of the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Working Group (1993 - 2002).

I was employed by Xerox from 1965 - 1998 and an employee of Xerox PARC from 1973 - 1981. During my tenure at PARC, I worked directly for Gary Starkweather, the inventor and developer of the laser xerographic printer. My job during that period when I worked closely with Gary was to design and build digital subsystems for the video or control of Gary's laser printers.

After I left PARC I worked in Workstation development in Xerox, mostly on Ethernet related topics. In 1988 I left Xerox to join a Xerox spin-out, SynOptics Communications to be their representative (as an individual) on IEEE Standards Committees.

I have been working on IEEE networking standards and governance ever since.

I have reviewed, and support, the proposed IEEE milestone, "Development of the Laser Printer, 1971-1977."

Sincerely, Geoffrey O. Thompson, Life Senior Member

possible citation editing -- Amy Bix (talk) 16:00, 30 September 2020 (UTC)

Just some suggestions to maybe sharpen the citation and make it less technical for a general audience?:

In 1971, PARC researchers demonstrated the feasibility of laser-printing computer images on single pages, a major advance over older slow printers that used spools of continuous-feed paper. Innovative designs for a computer-driven optical system transferred digital information to a xerographic copier. The Xerox 9700's launch in 1977 brought rapid printing into offices and homes, fostering both efficiency and creativity in business and leisure computer use.

Support proposal -- John Vardalas (talk) 21:13, 30 September 2020 (UTC)

I support this proposal. Though I do prefer the last sentence in Amy Bix's version of the citation.

Re: Support proposal -- Jason.k.hui (talk) 16:46, 4 October 2020 (UTC)

I support the proposal as well, but would suggest that the proposer consider Amy's citation inputs. Also, the year or range of years in which the achievement occurred is listed as 1971 to 1975. Why is then the title of the proposed milestone have dates of 1971-1977?

Correct Milestone Plaque Location Designation -- Bberg (talk) 14:02, 1 October 2020 (UTC)

Please note that the plaque location designation of "Xerox PARC" is inaccurate as Xerox formed Palo Alto Research Center, Inc. as a wholly-owned subsidiary in 2002. Hence, while the address is fully accurate since the location has not changed, the location designation should instead read "PARC (Palo Alto Research Center)."

Re: Correct Milestone Plaque Location Designation -- Jason.k.hui (talk) 16:44, 4 October 2020 (UTC)

Would the proposer please update this in the proposal?

Now such a ubiquitous piece of apparatus -- Djkemp (talk) 21:50, 2 October 2020 (UTC)

Details noted for History Committee discussion.

Reply from Geoff Thompson -- Jbart64 (talk) 01:40, 5 October 2020 (UTC)

I received the following email from Geoff Thompson, the proposer, who had trouble posting to the ETHW. I concur with his comments and revised citation with two minor edits (CAPITALIZED) as reflected in the last paragraph of this posting below Geoff's signature. Dave Bart

On Oct 4, 2020, at 5:06 PM, Geoff Thompson <thompson@ieee.org> wrote:

Amy-

I like your lead-in sentences, although I would tweak them a little. I would like to emphasize that the older printing was generally impact printing. Continuous paper came in both roll and fanfold.

Your last sentence is only true in the strictest and most general sense and is misleading. The 9700 was very much a centralized high end, high volume printer. It generally had no relevance to walk-up use in the home or the office ( think locomotive vs. car and bicycle) Certainly [lower cost] laser printing fostered "both efficiency and creativity in business and leisure computer use" but that was later by other companies. Therefore I think the existing text is a more accurate reflection of the PARC history.

Now the middle. I was trying to solve a tough problem in a very few words to stay within the 70 word limit. It takes more than a few words to explain this. A major feature of the way PARC ran was to (1) invent system elements and (2) broadly deploy them across its facilities. This was particularly true for the 3 biggies, the Alto, Ethernet and laser printing. Beyond demonstrating just "feasibility," they built a networked laser print server which provided print services for all of PARC (every employee had a networked Alto by'76) for several years. I was trying to put some wording in the middle that could (at least) allude to that.

So ignoring my last consideration, which I do not want to do. I would edit your text to:

In 1971, PARC researchers demonstrated the feasibility of laser-printing computer images on single pages, a major advance over usual impact printers that used continuous-feed paper. Innovative optical designs for a computer-driven system transferred digital information to a xerographic copier. In 1977, the Xerox 9700 proved the commercial viability of laser printing, helped launch the non-impact printer industry, and commenced a new era in printed communication. (69 words)

Geoff Thompson

As revised by David Bart:

In 1971, PARC researchers demonstrated the feasibility of laser-printing computer images on single pages, a major advance over PERIOD impact printers that used continuous-feed paper. Innovative optical designs for a computer-driven system transferred digital information to a xerographic copier. In 1977, the Xerox 9700 PRINTER proved the commercial viability of laser printing, helped launch the non-impact printer industry, and commenced a new era in printed communication. (70 words)


Re: Reply from Geoff Thompson -- Amy Bix (talk) 14:02, 5 October 2020 (UTC)

Geoff, many thanks for the detailed analysis! - I appreciate all your insights. I like David's new version, except that it seems to me to skip what I understand as the key point about why laser-printing was valuable - the increase in speed over impact printers - right? This only mentions the paper feed as an advantage. For the last sentence, I still find "commenced a new era in printed communication" rather too vague. For a small further tweak, could I suggest:

In 1971, PARC researchers demonstrated the feasibility of laser-printing computer images on single pages, faster than impact printers that used continuous-feed paper. Innovative optical designs for a computer-driven system transferred digital information to a xerographic copier. In 1977, the Xerox 9700 PRINTER proved the commercial viability of laser printing, helping launch a later industry that brought more efficient, versatile printing into offices and homes. (67 words)